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MacTarnahan's Highlander Pale Ale | Portland Brewing Company

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MacTarnahan's Highlander Pale AleMacTarnahan's Highlander Pale Ale
50 Ratings
MacTarnahan's Highlander Pale AleMacTarnahan's Highlander Pale Ale

Brewed by:
Portland Brewing Company
Oregon, United States

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): not listed

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 03-13-2002

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 50 |  Reviews: 48
Reviews by tgbljb:
Photo of tgbljb
3.63/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a very hazy light amber color with moderate white creamy head. Good retention with some lacing.

Smell has some light fruitiness notes.

Taste also has some malt sweetness. A bit of citrus hops begins to show through at the finish.

Modest taste retention, with the dryness developing a bit more at the finish.

A pleasant enough ber. Might be more enjoyable on cask.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.47/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A pretty average pale here,pours a light golden color almost no head,aroma is slightly fruity and malty but pretty light in that department.Flavor is lightly sweet and malty with some yeasty notes in the background,seems like a very subtle beer in all its features.Leaves me kinda hangin a little.

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Photo of RoyalT
2.82/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance – Light orange color with a small head that vanishes quickly, leaving no lacing at all.

Smell – The aroma is of a flowery nature, hoppier as the nose gets closer to the glass.

Taste – There is a small taste of malt, but light hops dominate. The body is quickly replaced by the floral, somewhat sour end.

Mouthfeel – There is a tangy feel to the mouth, but not like a well-carbonated brew. This is more like pop-rockets or something else designed to crackle on your tongue. I found it quite unpleasant.

Drinkability – I did not find this beer particularly drinkable. It is definitely a light summer brew or something to have with spicy Mexican food.

Comments: I have had some killer beers by MacTarnahan’s so was disappointed by this offering.

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Photo of Jason
3.85/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12oz short brown twist with no freshness date to be found.

Appearance: Pale golden yellow coloured brew, big frothy white head after the pouring. Head subsides down to a thin lace but still retains well.

Smell: Clean and sweet, floral and hoppy aroma … little bit of bready grain in the back.

Taste: Light and crisp with a slightly moderate body, thin on the malt but stays sweet and grainy with a cracker like maltiness. Hop oils are condensed with a lightly pungent and sweet floral flavour, some of the sweetness comes from the heather used. Hop bitterness is clean with a bite to it. Hop flavour lingers far into the finish with some residual sweetness as well as leftover grain.

Notes: A simple brew. Sometimes the ones that are not complex are a better beer. Session beer comes to mind but so does pairing this beer with spicy food with a pan-Asian theme to it.

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Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
3.27/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz. amber bottle. Clear, somewhat darker golden in color. Thin white lace with sparse lacing. Aromas are mostly floral with a bit of sweetness. Flavor is on the sweet side. Not as much bitterness as expected. Middle picks up more of the bitterness, and it's carried into the aftertaste. Dry finish. Nice mouthfeel. Good session brew.

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Photo of Thrasher
4.03/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was served from a cask at the Portland/MacTarnahan's Tap Room, under the abbreviated name "Pale Ale." It was served in a Highlander glass, and is probably similar to Highlander, but I don't think they are exactly the same beer; for instance, this was darker in color and less hoppy. It may be a special recipe just for cask at the Tap Room. It poured a light amber with a very full sticky head and lace. Pleasing aroma of sweet malts and a light hoppiness and a mild mustiness that I particularly like. This cask-conditioned beer tastes maltier, and a fraction roastier, than I remember Highlander being, and the hops are trimmed back. The end result is that this is close to a British pale ale or bitter. Still, there remains a minty crispness from the hops that draws a nice conclusion to this delightful, buttery ale. I am always nothing less than wholly impressed by the cask beers at the Mac's Tap Room.

Postnote: I recently had the regular Highlander on draft and it was pretty bad... I guess they are totally different beers, or the cask I sampled was a one-off recipe.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.6/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Slight haze. Nice golden color with a white head that drops quickly. The aroma is basically malty with what might be a light touch of diacetyl, and minimal background hops. The body is light-medium with a limited carbonation, giving it a soft & smooth mouthfeel. The flavor is gently sweet & grainy malt upfront, showing some light hop flavor as it crosses the palate, and revealing a bitter backing at the finish. Lightly dry with some lingering malt in the finish. A decent, well made beer with a straightforward character.

 525 characters

Photo of russpowell
2.9/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pours light glod with effervescence & a 2" whithead. No head retention or lacing

Smell: Sweet, malty & some corniness. Some metallic notes & a slight smokiness

Taste: sweet up front, slight bitterness & an iron taste. Finshes sweet & dry

MF: Slight prickliness & too much sweetness for balance

Easy to drink if you can get past the sweetness. out of style to me, I'd say to avoid this if in doubt..

 410 characters

Photo of bashiba
2.93/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

The appearence is a dark yellow/orange color with a slight cloudy/haziness to it. Almost no head at all and the little bit of white carbonation disappears almost instantly.
The scent is much more pleasing with a slight sweet caramel smell and some hoppy bitterness also coming through. Smells very balanced.
The taste however isn't balanced so much. Very sweet and malty with very little bitterness, not bad, just not what I expected. The taste is also somewhat muted compared to the scent. The mouthfeel is very light and plain, nothing to get excited about, but still a nice average drinkable beer.

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Photo of hotstuff
3.42/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I don't care for APA's, but this one was drinkable for me because it was missing a lot of the hoppy taste.At the same time, this was a very flat and bland beer.It poured a medium sized white creamy head that contained fine sized bubbles that mostly dissipated.The body was clear with a lot of lively carbonation observed.The hue of this beer was golden and it had a malty and a lightly hopped nose.The flavor was malty with some hops and was on the bland side.The mouthfeel was tingly, smooth, thin, watery and light bodied.It left an excellent lacing on the sides of my glass.

 577 characters

Photo of Murph
3.95/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a bright golden color with a thin creamy head. Smells of light malt quality and very faint hops. I agree with Jason that this beer is very simple and straight forward. Nice slightly sweet malt with just enough hops to balance it nicely. The hops don't really stick out but you can tell they are there. Very clean and crisp on the palate, wery smooth and extremely drinkable. This beer is just begging to become one of my session brews for this summer and it looks like it is going to make the cut. Not a huge body, but very refreshing and just enough taste.

 570 characters

Photo of Brent
4.12/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was taken with the unique hopping in this beer. It has a soft but distinctly floral aspect. One BA has commented that it seemed like heather (which would make sense in a "Scottish style pale ale" according to the bottle). It struck me as being like honeysuckle (perhaps that is the southern version of heather). Solid malt undercurrent supported the hopping, which, for all its floral nature, was not cloying or perfume-like. Finished up nicely with a clean, slightly tart ending.

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Photo of Gusler
3.52/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The beer pours a nice see through deep gold with a modest and brilliant white head that is frothy in its consistency as the head evaporates; it leaves a nice sticky sheet of lace to cover the glass. Aroma of malt pervades the nose, fresh, clean and slightly floral to cap it off. Front is mostly malt and lightly sweet with a top that is mediocre in feel. Finish is spicily hopped and quite acidic with the aftertaste droughty and long lasting, all in all a quite drinkable beer and well worth a sample.

 503 characters

Photo of HoboAGoGo
2.45/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured out of the bottle into a pint glass. Light yellow appearance, a light head that stuck around, left some lacing along the time. Carbonation present, in this remarkably clear beer. Smells of fruit, almost a sour apple, but more apricot. Taste, light malt, light hops, but lots of fruit. Don't know if I like how fruity this was. I drank two bottles, thinking the first may have been skunked, but they both tasted that way, gave the third bottle to a friend of mine who liked it.

 483 characters

Photo of Zorro
3.67/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a clear pale gold ale.

Smell is strongly malty with a mild hop smell and a touch of honey.

Taste is not very sweet but matches the hop chosen well. Not real complex but competent.

Mouthfeel is good, but relies too much on Carbonation.

Drinkable, but there are better.

 285 characters

Photo of marc77
3.06/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Brilliantly clear light auric hue. Lofty, fluffy, porcelain white head recedes slowly into a steadfast one fingered layer. Frothy lace remains. Soft floral hops with a brighter citric mirk along with dextrin malt sweetness dominate the aroma. Devoid of yeast presence, save a trace pear note. In flavor, prevalent is a combination of bland cracker like malt and a gentle, lemony, acidic hop presence. Dextrin malt provides slight residual sweetness and girth to the body of what otherwise would be a bone dry and thin brew. Citrus rind notes emerge as the brew warms and add a bit of girth, but the flavor profile remains soft, perhaps overly so. Devoid of yeast esters. Finishes immaculately clean, with only a fleeting hint of simple, bready base malt notes. Well brewed and without flaw, but rather a prosaic pale ale. Perhaps a fine gateway beer for those who are accustomed to domestic macrobrews. OK.

 906 characters

Photo of Hopheadjeffery
3.5/5  rDev +2.9%

Photo of Reidrover
3.68/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought in the 12 oz brown bottle with a red tartan label.
Pours a rich golden yellow with a smallish head which goes quicklly to a nice lace down the glass.
Strong smell of malts and something else maybe the heather"extract" as it is floral..strange but intrigueing.
Taste.. very crisp and fresh..not much malts but notice the heather ( i have had fraoch before)..a little bitterness near the end..not too bad.
Nice carbonation and a dry finish seems to complement this brew.
Very drinkable iondeed could polish of a few of these in no time at all

 552 characters

Photo of Mustard
2.99/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 12oz. brown bottle with no "bottled on" or "best before" date on the label; purchased as part of a ten beer sampler pack from the West LA Whole Foods on National and Barrington ($12.99).

Appearance: Slightly hazy; weak, pale gold; half-inch, snow-white head; not much lacing; poor head retention.

Aroma: Largely of slightly sweet malts, floral hops and grain.

Taste: Lightly sweet and spicy upfront and throughout; slight notes of floral hops, grain and corn; buttery.

Comments: Just say no.

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Photo of moulefrite
3.12/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Very pale golden-straw color. A small white cap throughout-splotchy lace, Aromas are mildly assertive and somewhat citric in hopage. The mouthfeel is light and crisp, though a bit on the dilute side. Some sweet malt midpalate then a dismal, watery finish. A very lean example of the style.

 289 characters

Photo of Gavage
2.66/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a clear light gold color with a head that quickly disappates. Minor lacing. The aroma is strange - a cilantro / floral smell that isn't very pleasant but is easily detectable. The taste is also below average, as malt and hop bitterness just don't blend well, and the citrus tones are off.

The mouthfeel is lightly tingling and slightly dry. The citrus tones really show up in the finish. The taste makes this a turn off in the drinkability category. There are much better pale ales out there.

 502 characters

Photo of sinistersteve
4.33/5  rDev +27.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I first sampled this beer at the arena and at arena prices. When I first noticed this light golden-colored ale I thought to myself...I paid 6 bucks for this?!? But to my surprise, this is one outstanding tasting beer. Albeit a light beer, it isn't light in taste. It has a ton of flavor, but nothing that will make you squinch your face with bitterness or do a double take with a bold malt flavor. This is the kind of beer you can share with your macro-swilling friends and they may very well appreciate something other than a beer from a company that spends more money on advertising that that of quality in their beers.

 621 characters

Photo of thechaacster
3.57/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Part of the "Summer Brews" pack from Cost Plus World Market. No freshness date or abv visible. Pours a medium gold with a fizzy head that disappeared quickly, leaving a lasting thin lace. Smell of floral hops. Taste comes right out with bready, roasted malt, along with the aforementioned floral hops. Supposedly brewed with heather? I couldn't really tell the difference. The finish is lasting, with hop bitterness sticking around. All in all an average but pleasant ale that could easily be a session beer.

 508 characters

Photo of DogFood11
3.12/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

I've had some success here and there from Pyramid, most noteably the Mac's Oaked IPA, very nice. The pour on the Highlander requires some aggressive tacticts but it does ok, no lacing, very pale, almost yellow.

Mild for the style. Pretty well put together and balanced. Sweet malts and a cleansing bitter hop sloping more towards the light sweet end of things. English variety comes to mind with its balance.

Comes up light and wet. Metallic in the aftertaste. Wasn't for me but hardly a bad brew at all, just didn't fit in the stable.

 542 characters

Photo of WesWes
3.65/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a gold color with a thick frothy white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice malty scent that boasts of pale, carapils, and bisquit malts. It is more of an English pale ale than an American pale ale. It's bitter with noble hops. The taste is decent. It has a mildy bitter flavor laid over pale and bisquit malts. It goes down smooth and finishes a bit watery and musty. The mouthfeel is decent also. It is a medium bodied beer with adequate carbonation. I'd prefer a heavier body and a little more carbonation. This is a decent pale ale. It has a pretty good aroma and an above average flavor.

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MacTarnahan's Highlander Pale Ale from Portland Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.4 out of 5 with 50 ratings
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